First week on board the Africa Mercy

Documentary, Mercy Ships, Photojournalism, portrait, travel

This is a rather odd mix of photographs from my first week, hopefully as I get settled into my role the blog posts will be more subject specific rather than a random assortment of my favourite shots.

At the moment there are three photographers on board, but there are only supposed to be two. This is because the long term photographer is taking three months leave in a couple of weeks time. There are a number of jobs the photographers are needed for. One is marketing requests to be used to inform donors/followers of the charity of what is going on on the ship – patient stories, events, crew stories etc. These are used in the general promotion of the charity and a photographer and a writer is generally assigned to each request. This week I photographed the arrival and departure of a French Naval frigate behind the Africa Mercy. It was a nice opportunity to get used to photographing and submitting an assignment (with all the relevant admin and metadata – not fun) without too much pressure on me.

Here the newly arrived French sailors are welcomed by a traditional Togolese dance troupe.

French sailors secure the frigate behind the Africa Mercy.

Pete, one of the ship engineers chats to some of the French officers in the midships lounge on the Africa Mercy.

French sailors and Mercy Ship volunteers on the dock by the Africa Mercy.

This is a view off the stern (rear) of the Africa Mercy as the frigate pulled out of dock to start military exercises with the Togolese Navy. On the left is Anouchka, who works in Marketing and PR, and on the right the captain of the Africa Mercy, Tim Tretheway.

We also do general photos each week, such as photographing the nurses and the patients chatting and playing on Deck 7. This gives the nurses and opportunity to have some casual photos with their patients as only the official photographers are allowed to photograph down in the wards.

Naturally if you’re carrying your camera around the ship and you see a good photo opportunity such as the one below of fresh food being delivered to reception for the cooks to pick up then it can always be used for marketing at some point…

Finally our other job is Medical photography for Mercy Ship and doctors records, and also (like the case below) so that cleft lip and palette photos can be sent off to the charity smile for verification that a cleft operation has been performed. This is very important as smile then and only if the photos meet their specifications will give $400 to the Mercy Ships per operation. Photos that fail to pass their standards will not be awarded anything and this is occasionally the case. I’ll be posting more pre and post operation photographs when I have more a portfolio. I’ll be on call every other day during the week and every other weekend. This means I can’t leave the ship and will be paged by the doctors when a photo needs to be taken. They vary between 8 and 12 patients per day. Days on call end between 8.30pm and 10pm.


5 thoughts on “First week on board the Africa Mercy

  1. This all looks fascinating and an amazing experience.
    I particularly like the shot of the French sailors and the Mercy Ship volunteers.

  2. A good insight into your what you are doing. I’ll make sure your friends in engineering are aware of your blog.

  3. …apologies, i used the wrong email address, please use this one… and not the one above.

    hi, I simply love what you are doing here… i live in South Africa, a journalist by profession, and a bit of a wizz with a camera… i really wish i could do somethng as profound as you are doing… i do, natually, we all do, along the way… but yes, i do believe it is time to put back into our life community, i am ready to come on board the Mercy, and give back… quick question, as a Buddhist, would that mean i would not qualify to put my good intentions into someting i believe so strongly in?


    1. Hi Glynis, glad you like the photographs. Though the Mercy Ships was founded on Christian belief, and the majority on board subscribe to this it does have non-Christians working aboard. I think they’re more concerned that you believe in their core values, which I would imagine tie in very strongly with Buddhist values – loving your neighbour etc. I would certainly apply, although I have a feeling that the photography positions will be quite full over the next few years. It’s worth trying, and if you’re keen on writing I’m sure a writers position will come up at some point. Good luck!

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